Tag Archives: Richards v Hertz Corp

Round up of Recent Social Media Evidence News and Resources

For this week’s entry, we have a rundown of recent developments in the world of social media evidence from some reputable sources.

KL Gates Social Media Analysis. To start off, our  previous entry discussed the case of Richards v Hertz Corp., underscoring that any law firm defending or prosecuting personal injury claims, as well as their hired eDiscovery consultants, should be investigating social media sites for source evidence as a matter of course. The same is true for employment law matters and top 10 law firm K&L Gates (which has the best eDiscovery blog of any law firm in my opinion – eDiscoverylaw.com) has a great write-up of E.E.O.C. v. Original Honeybaked Ham Co. of Georgia, Inc, where social media evidence is playing a key role in that case, prompting the  court to issue a broad discovery order for social media. Again, nothing really new here – just further reinforcement of the standardization of social media evidence.

Law Review and Social Media Evidence. This year, several reputable law reviews and other legal treatises have published important and very useful research notes on social media evidence. These resources are subscription only for those with access to Westlaw, but the following are a select list with cites to the articles that I found most useful:

  1.  UNDERSTANDING AND AUTHENTICATING EVIDENCE FROM SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES, 7 Wash. J. L. Tech. & Arts 209, 224+
  2.  TIPS FOR AUTHENTICATING SOCIAL MEDIA EVIDENCE, 100 Ill. B.J. 482, 485
  3.  SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE RULES ON AUTHENTICATION, 43 U. Tol. L. Rev. 367, 405+
  4.  WHAT HAPPENS ON MYSPACE STAYS ON MYSPACE: AUTHENTICATION AND GRIFFIN V. STATE, 42 U. Balt. L.F. 164, 186
  5.  INTERNET, EMAIL AND SOCIAL MEDIA EVIDENCE, ST051 American Bar Association 51+

Netflix CEO in Hot Water with SEC over Facebook Post.  Netlix CEO Reed Hastings congratulated his team for a job well done in early July on his public Facebook page, and now the SEC is investigating whether he violated investor fair disclosure rules. His message was only 43 words, boasting of increased subscribership and usage of online videos, which could be construed as material non-public information related to financial reporting. This incident obviously highlights the importance of social media monitoring consisting of best practices as part of a corporate social media compliance program.

Search Compliance Interview with Barry Murphy: Finally, this article:  Q&A: Social media data collection increasingly vital to e-discovery is a good read. eDiscoveryJournal’s Barry Murphy is arguably the most knowledgeable independent industry analyst on social media evidence issues.

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Plaintiff Claims Physical Injuries Made Worse by Cold Weather, Then Goes Snow Skiing

Earlier this month a New York Appellate court ordered the complete disclosure of a personal injury Plaintiff’s Facebook account.  In Richards v Hertz Corp., 2012 WL 5503841 —N.Y. Supp. 2d—, (NY AD 2d 2012, November 14, 2012) the Plaintiff claimed that her injuries from an automobile accident impaired her ability to participate in sporting activities and caused her to suffer pain that was exacerbated in cold weather. However, in the course of investigating the claim, the Defendant identified publically available images on the Plaintiff’s Facebook page “depicting [plaintiff] on skis in the snow,” (i.e. not only a sporting activity but in cold weather) and subsequently served a discovery demand requesting all her status reports, email, photos, and videos posted on her account since the date of the accident.

The Plaintiff objected to the request and ultimately a court motion was brought to resolve the discovery dispute. Initially, the trial court only directed that the injured plaintiff send defendants a copy of “every photo on Facebook” evidencing the injured plaintiff “participating in a sporting activity.” However, The Defendants appealed the order and the appellate court viewed the trial court’s order as too narrow, finding that defendants demonstrated that the injured Plaintiff’s profile contained an image that was “probative” of the issue as to the extent of her injuries, and finding in turn that “other portions of her Facebook profile may contain further evidence relevant to that issue.”

The appellate court ruled that defendant made “a showing that at least some of the discovery sought will result in the disclosure of relevant evidence or is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of information bearing on her claim.”

Regular readers of this blog will note that there is nothing new here as we have covered many similar recent cases with this type of fact pattern and outcome. But it is notable that such cases are becoming very routine. Also, it should be very clear by now that any law firm defending or prosecuting personal injury claims – as well as their hired eDiscovery consultants — should be investigating social media sites for sources evidence as a matter of course. As attorney John Browning pointed out earlier on this blog, any attorney who fails to do so may be violating their ethical duty of competence.

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